Spring is here.
Which means yellow green dust is everywhere in Atlanta and my nose is stopped up. Which means the hedges that have been dormant all year are now growing like they're on steroids, taunting me with new, unruly tendrils yesterday, just two days after I'd given them their first "high and tight" shape up of the year.
Which means I have used enough Clorox to bleach an army in my efforts to get all the mildew off of the birdbath. Which means all that Spectracide weed killer I've squirted into the nooks and crannies around here where the tough guy weeds like to hang out needs to be working as I write this, before all this rain gives their thirsty roots the wrong ideas.
It only takes a few weeks to get your rhythm back, after you've knocked a few of the once a year clean up jobs off your list, but it's almost enough to make you wish winter lasted a little longer.
So after a hot shower to get rid of that pollen itch, I get a cold beer to wash that scratchiness out of my throat, a nice big cigar to remind me that I'm not the hired help, and step outside to admire my handiwork in the muted light of the late afternoon sun.
The cul-de-sac is full of cars. It's so full that my neighbor, who is looking to take some relatives who are visiting out to eat, can't pull his car out of his driveway without major contortions.
"What's going on?" he asked me.
"I thought you were having a party," I replied.
"What? Me?" It took him a second to figure out that I was joking with him.
"Actually," I said, "it's a prom thing."
My neighbor, a West Coast transplant in his fifties who had never had any children, looked a little concerned. "Oh my. I wonder...I wonder what we're going to do. Do you know which house they're in?"
I took a puff on my cigar. "They won't be there long."
"Are you sure?"
"Yep. We went through this last year. This is the beginning. They're all getting together at this girl's house with their friends and their dates and take pictures. Then they'll be barreling out here in a hurry, because they don't want to be late for the reservations they have at the restaurant they've chosen for dinner, which, I imagine, is all the way in Buckhead or Midtown. You shouldn't have to wait more than ten minutes."
"Sounds like you've been through this before."
"Yep." I am amazed that he doesn't remember this same procession happening last year, except it was at our house, and our people were more courteous parking their cars. But then again, they are always biking or tubing or walking a nature trail or hiking up Stone Mountain, so they probably missed all that frantic energy."
"Ten minutes, you think?"
"I saw them all pull up when I went in to take a shower."
It wasn't five minutes later that we saw the group of girls in gowns and boys in tuxedos swarming down the street. The couple who had parked closest to my neighbor's mailbox smiled as they approached their car. She was giddy. He looked like he had just won the lottery.
There was something about the zeal and enthusiasm of youth in those few moments that had me, my neighbor and his guests still talking long after the last car had left the cul-de-sac, until I had to remind them that they needed to be heading on. It was a sort of spring fling moment in time as we all began to recall some of the more memorable highlights of our youth. These are the kinds of things that we often overlook as we cut hedges, clean birdbaths, kill weeds, beat rugs, clean windows, cut grass, or blow driveways clean. These activities are merely the fine tuning of the backdrop for the things that should really matter to us, the same way politics are intended as an adjustment to the background of the communities we live in.